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PGA Championship Golf Tournament Profiled; Interview with Tiger Woods; Interview with Phil Mickelson

Aired August 10, 2013 - 10:30   ET


RACHEL NICHOLS: Welcome to all access at the PGA championship. I'm Rachel Nichols and in the next half hour, we're going to take you behind the scenes with the biggest names here at historic Oak Hill Country Club.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you look at this leaderboard right now --


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Guys who have won big tournaments before.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Webb Simpson, quite the day, and shoots 64.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Adam Scott is starting to pour them in now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What a shot there. That would be for 29 on his second nine.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Spectacular shot for that man.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you kidding me?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The incredible shot making here on day two continues.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're seeing a highlight reel this afternoon.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The best players in the world.


NICHOLS: We're here at golf's final Major of the year, which, of course, means it's the final chance for Tiger Woods to break his drought. He's zero for 17 in Majors since last winning in 2008. Of course, it's still been quite a year for Tiger. He's won more tournaments than any other golfer, clocking in at four titles and nearly $8 million.

I got the chance to spend some time with Tiger here, and we talked about his year, and also what he got to share with one very special family member.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) NICHOLS: So played a knockout tournament at Bridgestone coming into this PGA championship, and yet you were upstaged by Charlie, your son, who gave you that great hug at the end when you won, and for a lot of us it reminded us of those bear hugs your dad used to give you. What did it mean to you too much him continue that tradition.

TIGER WOODS, GOLFER: He's never seen me win a golf tournament, so it was his first one to be a part of. And he was just -- he's so excited. He loves when I play, always wants to watch, and for him to be there, it just -- it was just so special for both of us. He always asks me are you leading? And then if I'm not leading, why aren't you leading? Are you going to bring home the trophy? These types of things. So he got a chance to be a part of it, and got a chance to be with the trophy and he's just -- he was just so excited.

NICHOLS: Now, I'm sure Charlie would love another win this Sunday. You've been right there at a lot of Majors this year after the first couple days but had more trouble on the weekends. Is there any other part of your game that you've been working on, you want to improve?

WOODS: Just keep getting myself there. Just keep putting myself there, and the key is if I'm there, then, you know, I got a chance to win. And I just haven't done it in the last five years, but the key is to keep putting myself there, and I'll start getting them.

NICHOLS: I know for you, you have had a tremendous year and there's been so many parts of the last five years you've played great golf, but you seem to still want that Major so badly. Why is it still so important to you after all this time?

WOODS: They're the biggest events, and it's neat being part of golfing history, you know. I have won 14 of them, and they're so unique and so different. I mean, you're playing against the best fields. You're on the most difficult venues, and the pressure is just -- it's fantastic, it's fun. So that's why there's a rush, that's why we play them. That's why we love them. If it happens, it happens. I'll keep progressing and hopefully come Sunday I'll be hoisting the Wanamaker.


NICHOLS: Tiger, of course, still chasing Jack Nicklaus' record of 18 Majors. He's been stuck at that 14 for five years now. And I want to bring in CNN's golf analyst Shane O'Donoghue, who has access to these guys every week all around the world. So you know Tiger as he goes into the time weekend of a Major again, what is he thinking out there?

SHANE O'DONOGHUE, CNN GOLF ANALYST: Rachel, he's under pressure to get to number 15. You know, he's a bit of an obsessive-compulsive from what I know of Tiger and what I have heard from close friends. You know, he's a committed father, and that means the world to him. But, you know, in tandem with this is this obsession to chase down Jack's total of 18 and surpass it. But, you know, he's struggled over the last five years.

And he's a guy who doesn't sleep a whole lot. So he gets up at about 4:30 in the morning, and he hits the gym. After he has a little breakfast, he hits the practice ground. He's got a purpose-built facility in his house. He has his own compound down in Jupiter. So just works, works, works.

NICHOLS: Does he want it too much? Is that part of the problem?

O'DONOGHUE: I think he's although wanted it too much. He's wanted it more than anyone. That's why we've seen him surpass everyone. He's done things in this game that nobody else has ever done, ever in the history of the sport. He's already had four of the Major titles on his mantelpiece at one point. So he has nothing to prove to anyone, absolutely nobody out here. He doesn't need to prove anything to them. He's just got to prove things to himself. So he's obsessed with getting that next Major, and I think he's putting himself under too much pressure and we see it manifest in the struggles certainly over the weekend of Majors. So hopefully we don't see that again Saturday/Sunday.

NICHOLS: We'll be watching for that, but certainly not the only player that we're going to be watching. Rory McIlroy, defending champion, he struggled coming into this tournament but he's even par going into today's round and we caught up with him.


VINCE CELLINI, TURNER SPORTS: We have to get you the two nines together or you could play the front nine twice. That's what we need to do for you this week.

RORY MCILROY, GOLFER: That would help definitely. The two front nines I have played have been pretty good.

CELLINI: What's the mindset heading into the weekend?

MCILROY: I guess just try to get off to a fast start tomorrow. I have played the front nine, as you said, very well the last couple days so try to do that again. Get myself into red numbers, and try to push on, put something in the mid-60s tomorrow to give myself a chance going into Sunday.

CELLINI: Relatively clean, too, with the white pants on.

MCILROY: A little bit. I got a few stains on it.


NICHOLS: Shane, you know Rory better than literally anybody here on tour. You have been with him since he was 12 years old back in Ireland. Tell us how he is managing this after having so much trouble.

O'DONOGHUE: I'm really encouraged right now because it's been a struggle for Rory throughout 2013 for a variety of reasons, and he's turned the corner. I definitely see a spring in his step. I see a better smile, a more natural Rory. Rory is a very authentic character. And he's one of the most sensational talents. He's made some serious decisions in his private life with regard to his business life, all of this behind the scenes. That does spill over. Plus I now see the old Rory, the kid. I see that in him. So I'm very excited for him. He's now defending it well. He's made the cut, and it's a long road ahead, and I think the future is so bright for him. This is a perfect way to start that.

NICHOLS: I can't let you get out of here without talking about the leader, Jason Dufner, who had such a heartbreak at the PGA two years ago. Three holes to play, he's up by five and ends up losing. And now he's winning again. He is leading this tournament going into the final weekend.

O'DONOGHUE: Yes, halfway there. But a much stronger character than two years ago, beaten in that playoff by Keegan Bradley. And a much better player, more complete. He's been victorious on the PGA tour a couple times. He's played in the Ryder Cup. He's a very cool customer, very placid. He nearly shot the lowest round in the history of the Majors on Friday just coming a foot short of a 62. But a 63 isn't bad. It's been done by 24 individuals, a couple have done it twice. So sensational stuff yesterday, and it all goes well for the weekend, and he could be the man.

NICHOLS: I would take a 63. I'm just saying. We would be fine with that.

And coming up, he may be the most inspirational golfer at this year's tournament, and he'll tell you why in his own words after this break.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Jack's PGA championship career came to an end in 2000 at Valhalla golf club, a course he designed. It marked the one and only time he was paired with Tiger Woods in their careers, and the symbolism as well as the mutual admiration between the two was obvious.

A competitor to the last, Nicklaus needed to hole out on 18 for an eagle to make the cut. Grinding to the end, Jack didn't disappoint. The torch was passed, seeing the beginning of one era of dominance and the end of a magnificent PGA championship run, but not without a fight.

JACK NICKLAUS, FORMER GOLFER: Said to myself, I said if you're going to be out here, play golf. And then I started playing, and I played fairly decently. The young man I played with, I mean, when I see -- I knew he was good, but I never played with him in a tournament before, and he is so much better than I thought he was that it just absolutely amazed me. It was a unique experience for me to play with him the last two days, and I think he enjoyed playing with me.


NICHOLS: We'll have more all access here at the PGA championship for CNN's Bleacher Report special. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Davis love has just hit the shot of the tournament.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It might be in.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That is what love is all about. Y-e-s! It's a good one. It's a great one.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's running after it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Watch and enjoy. He's done it!


NICHOLS: Welcome back to Oak Hill. This is all access at the PGA championship. A local club pro getting to actually play in this week's PGA championship is special, but for Chip Sullivan, that's not remotely his biggest accomplishment. Six years ago Sullivan was diagnosed with a genetic disease that took the life of his sister and nearly took Sullivan's livelihood away from him. But not only has he rebounded, he's been here playing at the elite level.


CHIP SULLIVAN, GOLFER: This is going to inject a needle into my skin, and that's going to register my blood sugar. So it's a pump that can hurt sometimes. I hope it doesn't hurt this time, pop it in, and then you pull it back, and then it just comes off.

Yes, things started falling apart on me about seven years ago. I was diagnosed with hema-chromotosis and diabetes. It's an iron overload in your blood. If not caught enough it can kill your organs. It killed my sister's liver and she passed away back in 04 at the young age of 45, and it got my pancreas which makes insulin for your body.

KARI SULLIVAN, CHIP'S WIFE: When we found out, our family was devastated. To be quite honest, we didn't think he'd ever play again. We thought the diagnosis was so severe we weren't quite sure how it would impact him. That was a very scary time in our life.

SULLIVAN: And through a few years of trying every different angle of pills and shots and all that, just felt that the pump was easiest way for me to manage my diabetes. Now I also have a continuous glucose monitor that I wear as well to alarm me if my blood sugars get a little too low or too high.

KARI SULLIVAN: It's a lifestyle change, and he's managing it beautifully right now.

SULLIVAN: OK, here we go. Everybody right at me.

A Major like the PGA is the super bowl. It just jumps up a whole other level. How often do you get a chance to play against 99 of the top 100 greatest in the world? It's great to represent the PGA of America and the 27,000 PGA members, and being part of that and being one of the 20 here is really cool.

It's what it's all about, walking up 18 in a Major. Grandstands filled. You want them yelling when you sink that birdie putt.

KARI SULLIVAN: I think Chip should be an inspiration to little kids who get diagnosed with diabetes. All of a sudden they feel like their world is going to be hampered and they're not going to be able to do the things they want to do, and it's tough, it's very tough to get used to. But then you look at someone like Chip who is on a world stage this week. He still lives with it, he manages it, but it doesn't get in the way of his dreams.

SULLIVAN: Tough golf course. You know, if anything, my diabetes, my disease, has made me a better golfer probably. I can smile more when I hit a bad shot and realize it's just not cutthroat. And I have a family to take care of that loves me, and I want to make sure I'm around to watch them grow up for many, many years ahead. In order to do that, I've got to manage this blood sugar thing, and if you can manage it, you can live a normal, healthy life.


NICHOLS: Chip wasn't kidding about the course being tough. Unfortunately, he didn't make the cut here at Oak Hill, but what a week for him to be part of all this. We talk about resiliency in sports. That's resiliency.

You know those fun house mirrors that make you look goofy? Well, PGA golfers doing that all on their own this week using a twitter mirror set up in the clubhouse. Players have fun making faces into the mirror, but instead of their reflection just coming back to them, it's also going out to the world on's twitter feed. So if you have a favorite player, like Phil Mickelson there, you can check that out and see just what he looks like when he stares into the mirror each morning. That actually might be a little more all access than people need, but, hey, our behind-the-scenes coverage continues as we take a look at Rory McIlroy signing autographs after a practice round. When we come back, we'll have my interview with Phil Mickelson.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let's take a look at the top five craziest comebacks at the PGA championship. In 2009 Y.E. Yang chased down Tiger Woods on the final day and won his only Major championship. Number four, in 1977, Lanny Watkins defeated Gene Litler in a playoff after trailing by six shots entering Sunday. Number three, in 1978 John Mahaffey won his only Major with a sudden death victory over Tom Watson and Jerry Pate. Number two, in 1989, Payne Stewart shot 31 on the back nine to claim his only PGA championship. And number one, in 2011 Keegan Bradley rallied from five shots down with three holes to play to earn his first Major championship.

(END VIDEO CLIP) NICHOLS: Welcome back to our all access special at the PGA championship. We're here in Rochester, New York, where one of the giants of the game got his start. In the 1920s, Walter Hagen was as popular as Babe Ruth, and no one cheered for him more loudly than they did in this community as went on to win 11 Majors, a number only Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods have passed in the time since. Here is Craig Sager with more.


CRAIG SAGER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Walter Hagen didn't set out to be a millionaire. He said he just wanted to live like one. He had a yen for long, powerful, expensive cars. He was known as a man who liked to party and spread hospitality. His career began here at the country club of Rochester as a caddie when he was just seven years old. By 19, he was the head professional. At 21 he won the U.S. Open. By the time his career was finished, he had won more than 75 championships, including five PGA titles, four in succession.

Walter Hagen respected time lightly and always tried to make the most of it. He was immortalized at the 19th hole in Rochester with a plaque bearing his words, "You're only here for a short visit. Don't hurry, don't worry, and be sure to smell the flowers along the way."


NICHOLS: Well, from one Major champion to another, you've seen Phil Mickelson on the fairway this week, but I want to take you behind the scenes, because it turns out Phil has some very shiny inspiration along on this trip, his trophy from the British open. Now, golfers don't normally tote their hardware from one tournament to another, something I brought up in our all access conversation.


NICHOLS: Well, Phil, obviously coming in from a terrific win at the British open, and I hear that to help you through this Major you do have your championship trophy from the last Major you've been traveling around with.

PHIL MICKELSON, GOLFER: It's hard not to. It's hard to leave it at home. And I've enjoyed it. It's been a very special and emotional win for me. I didn't realize at the time how much it meant for me because I hadn't really played that well at the Open championship. I hadn't played my best golf. I had maybe two times I had a chance to win and didn't in 20 years of going there. And to come out on top at that golf course, a style of golf that was always challenging in my career. To play my best round of golf arguably in the final round, that, I think, has been the biggest accomplishment of my career and certainly the most fulfilling.

NICHOLS: You charged from behind on that Sunday. What is it about Major championships, the clutch weekend, the last couple days that fits your character and the way that you play golf?

MICKELSON: Well, what I love about Oak Hill especially is how it rewards good shots. It's not a course that overly penalizes you for shots that are slightly mis-struck. You can salvage pars and make birdies. The penalty for a missed hit is more severe than a regular tournament but this is a great mix at Oak Hill. You can score, you can make birdies but there are also some of the hardest pars you will ever see.

NICHOLS: And it's New York. It seems like the connection you have made with the fans in New York since 2002, what is it that makes people have such affection for you?

MICKELSON: I'm not sure, but I just know in 2002 when I came close to winning the U.S. Open and didn't, the support of the crowd really meant a lot to me. The times we've come back to New York, the people here have been so great to me and my family, that I have always enjoyed coming here and spending time. Before the first FedEx cup event, I will come in town a few days prior to that so that Amy and I can spend a few days in New York.

NICHOLS: A lot of fan support for you this week and this weekend, too. Thank you very much.

MICKELSON: Thank you.


NICHOLS: Phil talking there about how Oak Hill is a course that will test you, and it sure has tested him these first few days. He played his second round yesterday in the pouring rain finishing at one over. He still has a chance to add another trophy to that claret jug he's carrying around, but it will be a long shot.

Coming up, what would a PGA championship be without Jack Nicklaus? When we come back we'll take a look at the golden bear at Oak Hill.


NICHOLS: Welcome back to Oak Hill. This is all access at the PGA championship, a CNN Bleacher Report special. It was 50 years ago when Jack Nicklaus won the first of his record-tying five PGA championships, the last of which came right here at Oak Hill in 1980 when the golden bear won by a stunning six strokes over Andy Bean. It also marked his 17th Major championship.

A reminder, for live third round coverage of the PGA championship from Oak Hill Country Club, tune into TNT at 11:00 a.m. eastern.

And that's all from this year at Oak Hill. Thank you for joining us for a behind the scenes look at golf's final Major of the year. CNN Newsroom is next.